The UEFA Champions League(UCL) First Leg of the Round of 16 will continue action this week after the intriguing Last Week Fixtures. Chelsea faces Atletico Madrid in their tentative Home- Bucharest due to COVID-19 restrictions in Spain. Atletico Madrid, who is currently leading the log in 2020/21 La Liga Season has had a fine run of form this season. Meanwhile, Chelsea who had shown a lot of bright sparks this season dropped between November and January which eventually led to the replacement of their manager. Since Thomas Tuchel took over the helm of affairs, Chelsea is yet to lose a game. Would this be the first?
Form and Buildup
Following their shocking exit in the Second round of Copa Del Rey, Atletico Madrid have only lost once in their last 8 games. The loss came from their last game against Levante, their second loss in the League overall. Despite how impressive this looks, recently Atletico Madrid have struggled to win games. COVID-19 has hit the team badly this year with 6 different players contracting the virus. Of the top 5 on the standings in La Liga, Atletico Madrid has had the poorest form. They have won just two in their last five game.
Last Five (La Liga) – WDWDL
Chelsea have been in an impressive run of form since the hiring of new manager, Thomas Tuchel. Players who had gone extinct under former manager, Frank Lampard, had been given a second chance. The draw against Southampton in the Weekend game is the only draw they have in their last five games in the Premier League. This being the second-best form in the League, second to the Invisible Manchester City. But it remains to be seen how they would perform against a top side like Atletico Madrid given that there is a lack of a certain cutting edge in their attack.
Last Five (PL) – WWWWD
Team News and Lineups
Atletico Madrid had been hit hard with COVID-19 this February. Surprisingly, most of their players recovered ahead of this game. But it is not to be seen if they are back to their best. Hector Herrera will miss the clash due to positive COVID-19 test. Meanwhile, Jose Gimenez and Yannick Carrasco who have just recovered from the Virus have sustained injuries that will keep them from the Clash. Atletico Madrid has used 4-3-3, 4-4-2 or 3-5-2 (most recent) in their games all through the season.
Chelsea has no major injury worries with Thiago Silva and Kai Havertz back from injury but yet to regain full match fitness. Christian Pulisic sustained a muscle strain in training ahead of the Southampton game and more information has not been heard about his development at the time of reporting. Tammy Abraham was seen putting ice on his legs after his substitution at Half Time against Southampton. Much information has not been given regarding whether it is a setback on his recent injury or just a minor injury. N’golo Kante who featured for all 90 minutes on Saturday is back to fitness and ready for selection.
Both Teams have a perfectly balanced head-to-head with two wins and three draws, having eleven goals scored by both teams. Atletico Madrid has advanced from this stage in the Champions League seven times in the last eight seasons meanwhile Chelsea is looking to advance to the next stage for the first time since the 2013/14 campaign. Another important fact is Diego Simeone has never lost a home match as Atletico Madrid manager in the Knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League (W9 D4)
Players to Watch Out For
Oblak has been the Savior of Atletico Madrid in many games. Not easily prone to error, Atletico Madrid can always rely on him to always do his job. About this same time last year, he denied Liverpool many goal-scoring opportunities with his incredible quality as Atletico Madrid advanced to the next round ahead of Red-hot Liverpool.
Luiz Suarez has been an incredible addition to Atletico Madrid in the last Summer Window having already netted 16 times for them in the league. His prowess in front of goal is something to look out for in the Clash. Chelsea Backline must be wary of affording the Uruguayan any space at all.
After his arrival to the club, many thought he had not lived up to expectations but the Portuguese has undeniably been on a good ride this season. It will be to Chelsea’s Peril if they underestimate the ability of Joao Felix
At the heart of Chelsea’s Midfield lies this man who glides past players to move the ball forward to cause opponent’s problem. His Partnership with Jorginho has been magical in the central of the midfield.
His technical ability to dictate the pace of the game is a joy to behold. Playing from deep, he strings the passes that orchestrate the game from midfield. Having Jorginho play his A-game will be key in Chelsea getting the better over Atletico Madrid.
Mason Mount has arguably been Chelsea’s most consistent player this season. Behind Kevin DeBruyne and Jack Grealish, he has created the highest chances in the English Premiership. Underestimating the 22-year-old will cost the Madrid side nothing but disaster.
The clash will be a fiery one. But eventually, the better side will definitely win. It might take a bit of luck for a side to run away winners but we expect nothing less than a hard-earned victory. Or, could both sides settle to share the spoils?
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